Boston's history recalls revolution and transformation, and still today it is among the country’s most forward-thinking and barrier-breaking cities. Art & Architecture The arts have thrived in Boston ever since the 19th century, when this cultural capital was dubbed the Athens of America.
Cape Cod, Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard
When summer comes around, New England's top seashore destination gets packed to the gills. Cars stream over the two bridges that connect Cape Cod to the mainland, ferries shuttle visitors to and from the islands and coconut-oiled bodies plop down on towels all along the shore. This trio of destinations offers a beach for every mood.
With more lobsters, lighthouses and charming resort villages than you can shake a stick at, Maine is New England at its most iconic. The sea looms large here, with mile upon mile of jagged sea cliffs, peaceful harbors and pebbly beaches. Eat your way through food- and art-crazed Portland, one of America's coolest small cities.
Quaint fishing villages, kitschy tourist traps and genteel towns – the Cape has many faces. Each attracts a different crowd. Families seeking calm waters perfect for little tykes favor Cape Cod Bay on the peninsula's quieter north side. College students looking to play hard in the day and let loose after the sun goes down set out for Falmouth or Wellfleet.
On the far southern edge of New England, Connecticut is often seen as a bedroom community to nearby New York City and a mere stepping stone to the 'real thing' to the north. Ironically, the comparative lack of tourist interest has saved the state – three quarters of which is rural – from the overexposure of its more 'New Englandy' neighbors.
Boston may be the state capital, but it's not the only town in Massachusetts with traveler appeal. Destinations with rich histories, vibrant cultural scenes and unique events merit a visit. Easily accessible from Boston, most of these are ideal day-trip destinations. From the moment the Pilgrims stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock, this area was on the map.
The smallest of the US states, Rhode Island might only take 45 minutes to drive across but it packs over 400 miles of coastline into its tiny boundaries. Quite a lot of this coastline takes the form of white sandy beaches, arguably the finest places for ocean swimming in the northeast.
Central Massachusetts & the Berkshires
The Berkshires draw you in with a tantalizing mix of cultural offerings, verdant hills and sweet farmland. You can ramble through estate homes of the once famous, listen to world-class musicians from a lawnside picnic blanket, and feast on farm-to-table cuisine at chef-driven restaurants.
Home to the state capital, Montpelier, northern Vermont is also home to the state's largest city, Burlington. Never fear, though: this area still has all of the rural charms found elsewhere. Even within Burlington, cafe-lined streets coexist with scenic paths along Lake Champlain.
The entire coast of Massachusetts claims a rich history, but no part offers more recreational, cultural and dining diversions than the North Shore of Boston. Salem was among America's wealthiest ports during the 19th century; Gloucester is the nation's most famous fishing port; and Marblehead remains one of the premier yachting ports.
With the exception of gritty Springfield, the Pioneer Valley offers a gentle landscape of college towns, picturesque farms and old mills that have been charmingly converted into modern use. The uber-cool burg of Northampton provides the region's top dining, nightlife and street scenes. For visitor information on the entire Pioneer Valley, go to www.valleyvisitor.com.